Thursday, August 6, 2009

Ranger or Sorcerer? Help me pick!

While trolling around the internets for Aion information the past couple months, one topic that seems to come up time and time again is the comparison of the Ranger and the Sorcerer. If I had a dollar for every thread in Ranger forums comparing the two classes I would buy NCSoft so I could be playing the game right now.

We see so many threads with topics like "OMG Sorc or Ranger! Help me pick!" or "WTF... Ranger damage sucks! I pix Sorc". So in hopes of dissolving any false stigmas (no pun intended) of our class, I am writing this article to clear some things up. Many of you already dedicated Rangers will know this information all too well but hopefully this will educate some.

First of all, Sorcerers destroy our DPS. There... I said it. The sorcerer is the king (or queen) of ranged DPS. We cannot come close to them in a simple pew pew contest. Is the poor ranger broken then? Absolutely not. Let's look at why we are perfectly fine.

Rangers have more natural armor, having leather, increasing survivability. We also have plenty of traps, roots, and snares up our sleeves to slow our enemies down or in some cases completely stop them from doing anything. We have chance on crit stuns. We are built to survive while using hit and run tactics.

Sorcerers are built to primarily stand in one place and blow things to kingdom come. The second they get focus fire, they are in severe trouble because they are squishy clothies.

Now which is better? Which class is superior? The answer is "none of the above". I am here to tell you, fellow Aion community, that comparing the two is like comparing apples to tomatoes. They may both be red (sometimes) but they are not the same. Rangers and sorcerers are both DPS classes but they are not the same and should not be compared solely on their DPS.

The name of the game is play style. Play style is where these two classes are a world apart. So make your class decisions on that, and that alone. If you are a DPS whore, then by all means, pick the Sorcerer and enjoy it. No one will think lesser of you. If you enjoy hit and run, while staying mobile in combat, then pick the ranger.

The point that many players are missing is that when a class excels in something, it must give up other attributes. Sorcerers excel at DPS while sacrificing survivability and defense. Rangers excel at survivability, while sacrificing DPS. There is no right or wrong answer when picking classes as long as you fully understand how the class you are picking is built to be played and want to play that way.

The ranger is a hard class to play. There is no denying this. It requires much more strategy and interaction to make things click in PvP. You must constantly be on your toes and be aware of your surroundings. That is the allure of the class for many of us though. The rewards of outsmarting your opponent and wearing him/her down is a very rewarding thing in my opinion.

Hopefully some of you ranger/sorcerer fencers can take this information and make an educated decision. Always remember that games are meant to be entertaining. Pick what you think sounds fun, not what you think will dominate. That being said, rangers are better than sorcerers. Just kidding!

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Monday, July 27, 2009

Weekly Ranger Interviews Seiishizo

In an effort to gain a broader understanding of the what is to come for the ranger community in the higher levels of the game, I have interviewed a ranger from the Chinese servers to give his insight of the class. Before we get started, there are a couple things I want everyone reading this to understand.

First off, Seiishizo is a level 40 ranger. Although most of you would have preferred the insight of a level 50, please respect Seiishizo for taking his time to give us all some insight. His opinion comes with more Aion specific experience than probably most of us in the NA ranger community have.

Secondly, the answers are the opinion of one ranger so although I greatly appreciate his time, I can not fact check everything that is being said only having access to the closed betas. Remember though that insight can never hurt in the quest for knowledge. We are all trying to learn here so keep the flaming to a minimum. Seiishizo is answering these questions to the best of his knowledge.

As always, much thanks and credit goes to the wonderful ranger community for submitting questions and feedback. You guys rock! Without further ado, lets get on to the Q and A.

What do you like about Aion? What do you dislike?
The thing wich i realy like is PvPing. I missed that alot in MapleStory which doesnt have it. I also like the way that the Abyss is made with the Fortress capturing. I don't realy dislike anything in the game besides the horrible lag on the EU server.

What is it that you love about the ranger class? Or do you?
What I like about being a Ranger in Aion is killing foes from a distance.

What is your current manastone strategy?
Attack and Crit. Crit until 400 then a bit of attack.

Are you satisfied with the ranger class at your level compared to other classes from what you can tell in game? What needs to be tweaked/fixed in your opinion?
Yes I am. The things that could be fixed is the 25m distance on all skills. NCSoft is fixing the cooldown on Attack Arrow so that's nice.

Switching to melee in the teens for a ranger is worth doing. How often do you use melee at your level and if so in what situations?
I'm on the chinese server so it was pretty useless because of the delay with switching and skills (lag). I'm pretty sure that until level 16-19 it's usefull to throw in some CounterSlash/BackStap combos into your rotation.

How difficult is it for you to find PvE or PvP groups? On a scale of total outcasts to very desired, how do you find our desirability in groups?
For me, MMO's are about making friends. Even if u suck like a BananaPie on the Grill they will take u (if they are good friends). For the ''random'' people, I would say it's not that hard. If you think that no one wants you in your group, start a group urself by pressing V and asking everyone in the level range and class you need and wait for a decent team.

Who do we pwn (class) in 1v1? Who do we hate in 1v1?
First of all, the player's ability and gear matters. Basically it is: Templar > Ranger (don't try, hard to kill ). Gladiator = Ranger (if the ranger plays keeps his distance, he can own a Glad). SM/Sorc = Ranger (with mage classes, it's mostly who starts attacking first). Assasin = Ranger (at low level we can own them but a decent assassin can kill you very fast at higher levels).

Describe the leveling experience post-25.
Mainly just doing all the quests you see, trying to get a group for some group quests. It's never that difficult.

How often are you using traps in the Abyss?
For PvP, hardly at all. Only on Templars which I know that I can take a PosionTrap because i like the dps from it. I don't use them much with mobs either because I typically kill them before they hit me.

Would you trade your ranger for any other class if you could (be honest!)?

What is your favorite PvP situation (group, solo, duo), and why?
I like a bit of everything. Solo gets you a lot of AP (Abyss Points) but you just have to run when you are outnumbered. Duo is also a lot of AP and u can take down some higher enemies. Group is fine but lower AP. You mostly gank around a city with a group which is pretty fun. I do this solo too but i'm crazy. I like doing a little of everything personally.

What has been the most rewarding/fun experience for you so far as a ranger?
I killed a Templar around level 40 in about 15 seconds. I got some very lucky hits, but dam i was happy.

After level 25, is gear mainly obtained through abyss play or have you found things like crafting/auction/PvE gear comparable and/or worth going after? How have you mainly acquired your gear?
I did crafting stuff until level 30 but after that, patterns became hard to find at the trade broker. I'm getting most of my gear with AP now.

What is your opinion of the coin reward quests? Are these worth it at higher levels or is our time better spent in other areas?
They have them in the Abyss for Gold coins, but you need to fly a lot for the quest. I did that one a lot for AP and some XP but in the Chinese server Gold and Silver coins aren't worth much. I'll bet that will be better at a new server.

In group PvP, what is our role? How do most rangers play? Is flight something we do often while in group PvP environments?
We mainly just do DPS. We fire off stuns and snares if they are trying to run away. 99% of the Group pvping is on the ground. Thats because you won't find a group of 6 training in abyss or something. You will find group PvP during fortress capturing but thats pretty massive. During fortress capturing you just hit as hard as you can and hope you don't get owned.

Are you going to re-roll for NA release?
I will be playing on the EU servers.

How has the experience been playing with Chinese players?
It's hard to play with the Chinese. 0.1% of them speaks decent english. They are doing a lot of fortress capturing. Asmodian got about 65% of the abyss in the server where i play at.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Weekly Ranger Wallpaper

Hey there fellow Rangers! Because the feedback has been great I have a small gift for the Ranger community. Click on the link below for the Weekly Ranger wallpaper.

Send your comments, suggestions, corrections to!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Ranger Stigmas: Levels 20-25

Stigma Primer
Stigmas give players in Aion a way to customize their characters by equipping stigma stones found throughout the world. The stigma panel reveals 5 slots that are unavailable until level 20, when 2 slots become available. The additional 3 slots become available for use at levels 30, 40 and 50.

Every class receives a solo-able chain quest at level 20 and upon completion receives a pile of stigma shards and one stigma stone. The Ranger receives Arrow Deluge I for completing their quest chain.

Equipping a Stigma stone requires a Stigma Master, located in major cities, and a predetermined amount of stigma shards that are consumed when the stone is placed (higher level stones require more shards). Additional stigma shards are acquired through PvP in the abyss. The initial amount of stigma shards given to you are enough for the first 2 stones you acquire.

Stigma stones can be replaced but are destroyed when overridden.

Ranger Stigmas
Levels 20-25 give the ranger 5 stigma options: Arrow Deluge (1 and 2), Sleep Arrow, Retreating Slash, and Silence Arrow. Let's briefly go over these in order of appearance.

Arrow Deluge IArrow Deluge II (level 20 and 25)
We get Arrow Deluge for free upon completing the Stigma chain quest at level 20. This ability is nothing too special because it only is effective when firing upon a group of mobs because of it's AOE effect. This could be useful in mass PvP or in group PvE to supplement damage but I feel as if other stigmas will prove more useful in the end. It can be used to add a little additional damage into rotations when soloing until getting your hands on a better second stone.

Sleep Arrow I (level 20)
This stone is indispensable and will probably be with you (upgraded versions later on of coarse) for your entire Ranger career. It is great for group play, being able to temporarily sleep targets during those "oh crap" moments like pulling additional ads.

Sleep Arrow is also very powerful in PvP for many reasons. It is effectively an interrupt and a root all rolled up into one. Being able to sleep the target in a 1v1 situation, increase distance, and give some burst damage skills time to finish their cool downs will be a huge part of our strategy in end game PvP. It could also give you time to throw in a Herbal Treatment if your health is getting low.

Retreating Slash I (level 22)
Rangers are all about keeping distance from their target so this stone is also a great addition to any Ranger arsenal. It effectively pushes you away from the target 25m. Once Silence Arrow becomes available at level 25, this stone may fall to the wayside for most rangers, but it is definitely more useful than Arrow Deluge. 

Correction: Retreating slash does not require melee weapons as I stated in the original post. Thanks to Setis on the Aionsource Ranger forums for pointing out that error! You must be facing the target in melee range, but having a "physical" weapon equipped is the only other requirement. My preference still leads to taking up Silence Arrow (read below) over Retreating Slash but these are ultimately very equally matched in use and the argument could be made for either. Play style, play style, play style!

Silence Arrow I (level 25)
Silence Arrow does just what it sounds like. It silences the enemy, stopping them from casting for 2-6 seconds. This should be used on an enemy mid-cast for the most effectiveness. I personally opt to replace Retreating Slash with this stone but I feel this will come down to personal play style. Either one will be effective and useful but don't replace Sleep Arrow.

Send your comments, suggestions, corrections to!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Understanding Crit Soft-cap

Disclaimer: as far as I know, no official, definitive information on soft caps have been released by NCSoft at this point so all the preceding information is based on community consensus from Korean and Chinese servers. I am not claiming that any of this information is fact, but yet a general agreement by many Rangers in the community so far.

This one is going to be short and sweet my fellow Rangers. One of the most important stats for a Ranger (the most important in my opinion) is crit.

Crit "soft-cap" is the magical number at which the amount of crit points needed to gain crit percentage is increased. Every 10 points of crit equals 1% crit chance. Crit has a soft cap of 440. After reaching the crit soft-cap, 20 crit points are needed to yield an additional 1% crit chance. Are you still with me?

So what does this all mean? Basically it means that you should be socketing crit until you reach 440. The amount of crit needed to yield 1% crit after reaching the soft cap makes socketing additional crit stones a waste. After you reach 440 crit, you should switch to socketing attack.

As always, I preach that you need to play to your own style. If you fancy attack over crit then by all means, socket attack. If you are in the crit-mokey camp as I am, this information should help you from going overboard, wasting stats beyond the crit soft-cap.

Send your comments, suggestions, corrections to!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Trap Talk: Levels 1-25

Traps are a unique and important mechanic to the Ranger class. This series will cover various traps to familiarize any would be or aspiring Ranger. I will be linking the Elyos versions until distinct differences arise. At this point, the only difference I see is a different spell icon.

Level 1-25 brings us 3 unique traps, not including upgrades. These are Spike, Poisoning, and Explosion Traps.

Spike Trap I and II - (level 13 and 25)
Spike ISpike II

This trap is a snare with a added debuff that reduces evasion. The obvious benefits are giving the opportunity to increase distance, while increasing DPS temporarily while the target's evasion is lowered. You should place this trap at the peak of your max bow range when used to maximize the distance benefit. In a tight spot with lots of possible agro, luring the mob directly to the trap may be best. If you have more room to play, a Ranger may consider kiting the mob around and timing the trap to set off right as the mob closes the distance.

One thing to also consider is damage breaking the snare. When that trap goes off, don't stand there and pew pew the mob immediately. Take advantage of that snare and effectively resetting the fight by running to max bow range. The average mob will not require this much work but with advanced kiting with elite mobs, this can be the difference between life and death when every hit hurts. And remember that with a 30 second cool down, this trap can be used multiple times in a long kite-fight or PvP brawl.

Poisoning Trap I (level 16)
Poisoning Trap I

Pretty straight foreword. Puts a bleed on target supplementing DPS. I don't see the benefit of this trap over Spike since in my opinion distance from target seems more valuable than a bleed. One strategy to consider for long fights is to alternate Poisoning and Spike (snare, increase distance, drop poisoning trap, apply bleed, snare, increase distance etc.). Overall I feel like spamming Spike is more valuable for survivability.

Explosion Trap I (level 25)
Explosion Trap I

This trap is an AOE (area of effect) so it will be most efficient with groups of mobs. Like Poisining Trap I, this trap probably isn't that useful in 1on1 kites when compared to using Spike. Another concern with this trap is grabbing agro from multiple mobs at the start of a fight when in a group situation.

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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Let's talk Manastones

In this article I plan on covering the basics of Manastones for the Ranger community. I will be discussing basic mechanics and moderate strategy when it comes to what stones we benefit from the most. There are some universal no-no's for the Ranger when it comes to manastone strategy but please always remember that there should never be a catch-all build. Know your play style and stone accordingly. And experimentation is part of the fun.

Meet Mr. Manastone.
Every Aion toon comes with the ability to "install" manastones. Not every stone can go in every slot (changed from 1.0 where you could). Socketing stones can either fail or succeed (a failed attempt will destroy the stone). The success of a socket is determined by the difference in level between the stone and the item. The higher the stone over the item, the more chance you have.

So many options, so little time.
But what stones do we equip? There are so many! For this article I will be focusing on 5 stats: HP, crit, attack, accuracy, and evasion.

Accuracy: Ranger's highest "natural stat". At level 30 we have close to 1000 accuracy without stones and enchants. For this reason, using accuracy stones shouldn't be happening since we already have plenty of this stat naturally.

HP: No one could argue that HP is worthless but every class must balance offense and defense so this comes down to a personal choice. Do you want to sacrifice damage for more survivability? Rangers shine in survivability so typically HP stones will present missed opportunities to increasing our lackluster DPS. PvP is the only area where a Ranger should consider HP though. In PvE situations, if you are doing things correctly you shouldn't be getting hit much (kite or tank taking damage).

Crit: Let that word sink into your head. Crit is a very good thing. Not only will increased crit chance boost your DPS, but it will increase stun/knock back procs. A stunned enemy is a dead enemy. The more stuns that occur in battle, the less chance an enemy has to close distance on you (or friends), cast spells etc. Casters hate interrupts. This also allows you to increase distance if you are staying mobile. High crit will make you that much more annoying (one thing us rangers love to be).

Attack: This stat will increase your base damage. This stat, like HP will come down to personal choice. Do you want more consistent and predictable damage with less stun/knockback/interupts? The ranger class is a very bursty class by default so this stat will curb that a bit. Rather or not that is a good thing is personal preference.

Evasion: Like HP, this stat falls under the "why are you getting hit" category but I wanted to make mention of one point. One strategy to consider is placing evasion on your melee weapons. There are situations were a Ranger can benefit from switching to melee so it won't hurt to have some evasion when you switch to melee mode. Remember that the stats coming from weapons and stones are only active when that item is equipped. The idea here is when that bow is out you shouldn't be getting hit with melee damage so evasion is less useful. When those daggers are out you are obviously in a melee situation. Just something to consider/think about.

So what do I do then?
At the end of the day manastones come down to personal choice and play style. That being said, my personal preference leans more towards crit. My plan for the NA release is Crit > Atk > HP with evasion on melee weapons. If I can help it, I will be going purely with crit. I find the knockback/stun proc too invaluable to how I play. I like to kite and the more times the enemy stops in his tracks, the less I am getting hit.

In PvP, many will argue HP is important. Time will tell if it is an absolute necessity in PvP but the verdict from live servers seemed mixed at this point. There have been reports of high level Abyss farmers going with all Atk but it seems to me that Atk and Crit can be interchangeable depending on if you are relying on stuns or or wanting a more consistent DPS. Bursty DPS is less predictable but I think that makes battle more interesting.

Focusing on attack will allow you to be more methodical in your play style since you will have a better idea how much DPS you will be outputting in most situations as apposed to relying on the chance to crit. A crit player needs to play more on their toes and react to the ever changing situation, which I find more exciting or enjoyable. In the end, personal preference should determine what you socket. Personal preference shouldn't allow you to use magic boost, parry, shield defense, or MP stones though!

Send your comments, suggestions, corrections to!